Come On In, But Can I See Some ID?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

You probably think of your school or organization as a place where all are welcome, anytime. When people enter the doors of your facility, they should get a sense that they are in a friendly, nurturing space. Parents should feel free to visit their child at lunchtime and during class parties, or during your organization’s events. At the same time, though, you are responsible for protecting the children and youth who are at your facility for much of the week and sometimes in the evenings. How do you find balance, when you have the desire to welcome parents and the community, yet keep predators out at the same time?

It’s the time of year when school is wrapping up and there are many different activities happening: field day events, outdoor field trips, ceremonies, carnivals, and other non-typical school activities. Organizations are ramping up for spring and summer activities. These additional activities mean more people are bringing grandparents and family to your facility for events. It’s likely that you won’t recognize many of these people as regular visitors to the school or organization.

How can you provide the balance between welcoming people vs. protecting your students? Here are some safeguarding tips:

  • Make sure you have policies in place for all visitors. For example, everyone visiting the school or organization must sign in at the office before traveling to their destination. At that time, they should be issued a nametag or other identifier. Some schools and organizations do immediate simple background checks with a driver’s license when someone enters the facility.
  • Require all staff and volunteers to wear identifiers such as nametags or lanyards. This will not only help you quickly identify people who should be there, but also it will identify people who should not be there. If you see a staff member or volunteer who is not wearing the proper ID, give them a friendly reminder to follow the policy.
  • Always keep a watchful eye for people who seem out of place. If you see someone you don’t know, introduce yourself. It could be that the person is new to the school or organization and has just lost his or her way, but you never know for sure without asking.
  • For large events such as concerts and carnivals where there are many visitors and people wandering throughout the facility or grounds, you may want to consider a community police officer or off-duty security guard to provide additional security.
  • If you see something that doesn’t look right, follow your instinct and say something!